Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Lester: A Return to the Awesome

Yes, I'll slap myself the hardest if this post proves to jinx Jon, but damn if I'm not impressed. All those issues between Joshua and Jonathan early in the year? Do you remember them? They seem so far away these days. I can't even think of a phrase disgustingly sweet and mushy enough to describe my love for these two.

Back when Johnny was just a rookie and he routinely loaded the bases and worked his way out of it (who remembers that?), I would tell people that he's a good pitcher and that we shouldn't trade him. Most people thought I was retarded. Well, I can honestly say that I feel vindicated now. In your FACE everyone who doubted me and/or Jon!

I may be one of five people in existence who wasn't surprised or saddended by John Smoltz's not-so-stellar performance last week. I wrote it myself - I have no expectations for the guy. I don't care what team he was facing. In case people didn't know, the Nats actually have some good hitters. It's generally their pitching that lets them down, so maybe we should rag on our hitters instead of our future Hall of Fame super amazing starter/closer who was just returning from a year's worth of arm trouble. Or we can all just chalk it up to a bad game and be genuinely excited for his start tonight!

That's right. They're gonna let him pitch again. And why not? He's bound to be better than Dice-K, yes?

However, I do want to give a shout-out to our resident dyslexic, David Jonathan "JD" Drew for his near-cycle feat last night. I don't even remember if I've ever watched anyone hit for the cycle... I'm sure that's the kind of thing I'd remember, so I guess I haven't... but it seems like it would be awfully fun.

I was so ambitious at the beginning of June to get a lot of entries written. Oh well, I guess I failed. Maybe July will be better but I wouldn't count on it.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Nick Green: Should Have Made that Play

I'm kidding, of course, as I much prefer Captain Planet to not be seriously maimed. Scary moment there, though. Just imagine if the bat had hit him as hard as it hit the ground. He could have gotten seriously hurt. As I'm sure everyone else is thinking... something needs to be done about these bats.

Anyway. It's been a while. How are you folks doing? I'm alright, thanks. Been busy. You know how it is.

So Papi got his 1,000 career RBI last night. It came on a 3-run home run. That's right, a home run outside of Fenway. It's a glorious thing, for sure. It put a smile on my face anyway. You know what came after that? Of course you do, because you watch the Sox... and if you don't, you wouldn't be reading this. Yes, Jason Varitek followed up with his own 2-run shot... not RIGHT after, but after nonetheless. Despite his offensive struggles in the month of June and his sore shoulder, (to steal one of Eck's phrases) he knew what to do with one of Stammen's pitches. Awesome.

So Jon Lester gets the win. He SHOULD be over .500 right now, but he ended up with a tough-luck loss against the Marlins, and a no-decision against the Phillies after an incredibly pitched game. He didn't pitch his best last night, but he deserved the win, and I'm happy he got it. The once seizure-inducing ERA has fallen to a very average 4.67. In the last month, he's really taken great strides to bring himself back to where he was last year. Do you remember how awesome Jon was last year? He was amazing when we really needed him to be. He was the bona fide ace of the staff last year, and he pitched his heart out. He's got a long way to go to get that ERA back down under 4, but I think he can do it if he really tries. Josh Beckett did.

Beckett... he's another blog for another time. I was going to write one about his performance against D-Lowe on Saturday, but what can I even say about it? Everything was working for him. He was dominant. It was gorgeous. Nine innings of pure, calm brilliance from our once-and-current ace. Joshua, I've gathered, enjoys being on the quiet side of a very hyped pitching match up. All people wanted to talk about was Lowe. Almost like when all people wanted to talk about was Pedro. Beckett was on the quiet side of both of those matchups, and dear God did his pitching speak volumes both times. So, please... neglect to hype up the Commander. It only makes his desire to win more intense. What else can I say about him? I'm at a loss for words.

I'm hoping his next start leaves me at a similar loss for words. Actually, I'm hoping John Smoltz's start tonight will leave me at a loss for words. Let that soak in for just a second. John Smoltz is starting for the Red Sox tonight.



Red Sox.


It's beyond awesome to me to be able to say that. I don't hold any delusions of what he's going to bring. He's a 42 year old pitcher with a surgically repaired shoulder who hasn't seen a major league hitter in over a year. The AL is generally much harder on pitchers than the NL. He's not going to be the same pitcher he used to be. Despite all that... despite all of the reasons I have to not be overly excited about it, I'm just beyond thrilled to see him in a Red Sox uniform. The best part is, we don't really need him to be at his best. We've got enough talent to cover him if he struggles. We can just be excited that a future hall of famer is putting on a Red Sox uniform and pitching for us. I'm excited. I've always wanted to see Smoltz as a Red Sox and now I am getting my wish. No matter what we get from him, it's all just gravy. You know I'll be watching.

And really, can't we think of a better nickname for the guy than Smoltzie?

Friday, June 12, 2009

Brad Penny: Way More Than I Expected

Perhaps it's not fair. Perhaps it's even downright mean of me, but truth be told, whenever I hear Brad Penny is pitching, I cringe. Just a little. Barely a cringe, really, because I try to be a good Sox fan and be supportive. He just fails to impress me usually. Last night was not the case. Last night, he was a super shiny Penny. He was the kind of Penny where, if you're walking down the street and you spot it just lying there, glimmering in the sun you just have to run over and pick it up. And it becomes the bright spot in your day. He glistened, and it wasn't just because of the rain. Six innings, six hits, no runs. Really, can you ask for anything more from the number five guy in your rotation? His ERA is even down below 5.5!

Delcarmen, on the other hand, didn't enjoy his night nearly as much. 3 runs in 2/3rds of an inning brings his ERA up to 2.08. I don't care what anyone says about ERA. Especially in June, I still feel it's a good indicator of how someone is pitching. The thing is that it was a rare game for Manny, to be sure. He's been good this year. I don't expect a repeat performance any time soon. Saito turned in a stellar performance, saving Manny from any more trouble. Nine pitches for Paps? Awesome.

And how about that Papi, huh? Almost looks like he's finally charged his batteries and is at full power. Shame that he probably won't be playing in Philly this weekend, because he could really use the momentum.

Is there any doubt that Munchkin and Captain Planet pretty much gave us the win in the last two innings? Yeah, didn't think so.

Beating the Yankees is fun. Beating them 8 times to open the season is very fun. Keeping a win streak alive is even better, so... yeah. Keep it up, Sox.

I really want to write more... I do.... I'm just so damned tired from a long week and a lot of rain. I can't make it through the rest of today. Why do we not have nap time at work?!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Timothy: Giving Us Just Enough Again

No, it wasn't a hear no-hitter or a perfect game. No, he didn't hold them to two hits, or maintain a shutout, but Tim gives you just what you need... a win. Not all of these victories are going to be glamourous, and Tim is rarely glamourous anyway, but I couldn't have been happier.

Papelbon seems to love to keep everyone on the edge of their seats in the 9th inning. I'm starting to wonder if perhaps he's doing this on purpose just to show us all how important he is and how hard it is to pitch the 9th of a close game. It's all just a ploy to drive up his value, but I don't know if it's working out for him the way he hoped. We'll see.

Mikey with another beautiful monster shot, and Asshat even got in on the HR extravaganza. Ok, so it wasn't so much an extravaganza as it was a couple of home runs. I don't know, I guess the Yankees hit a few too, but oh well.

I have no complaints. Any time we win, I do my best not to complain because I am thankful for the victory. Wakefield keeps chugging along and showing everyone that he still has a few tricks up his sleeve, our dual aces are pitching like dual aces, and Dice-K... well he didn't walk anyone his last time out. The hitters hit, the fielders field, the W's go on the board. I'm a happy girl.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Beckett: Not So Secret Weapon

Holy hell, was Josh good last night or what? I really try to keep my hype down (do I?), but that was exciting. I think the base hit off of him should have gone as an error. As much as I enjoyed the play, and I thought Munchkin did an amazing job getting to that... he had the ball in his hand and dropped it. Had he not dropped it, I really think Cano would have been out at first. It's an error. Beckett was taken out in the 6th inning of a no-hitter.

It's ok though. Where are all these no-hit innings from Beckett coming from? I love it. I hope he remembers to stock up for his next start against the Phillies. How sad is it that the Phillies are world champions and I was sitting at a restaurant with my friends the other day, and we could name two definite Phillies, and a few likely Phillies. Ryan Howard and Jimmy Rollins were the definites. Chase Utley and.... hmm, now I can't even remember who were the possibles. I'm bad with names, but this is inexcusable.

Like last Saturday's game... my friend said something about the guy starting against Lester. I couldn't think of his name to spare my life, but I managed to remember that he was 1-2 with a 6.90 ERA and a pretty good fastball. Why can I remember that and not remember what his name is? I don't get it. I think his name was Holland.

Anyhow, lovely pitching by Josh. Had it not been for the long waits, we would not have scored any runs and Josh could have pitched into the 9th. I'll take the runs and let the bullpen get a little work. I don't mind. I have a shockingly high level of faith in our 'pen, even if they do make me a little nervous.

And now, a note to Tito....
Dear Tito,
I can call you Tito, can't I? Of course I can. We're buddies. Tito, my friend, I know that when the crowd is chanting PA-PI! PA-PI! PA-PI! you probably just want us to shut up and get back to the game. I've seen you drag him out of the dugout for a curtain call. And that's ok, he was struggling. It was his second home run of the year. I have no issues with that. My issue is that I'm worried about this becoming a trend. I'm sorry, I don't think curtain calls are warranted for every home run. His first one, yes. His second one, ok. The third one? Now we're getting ridiculous. Please stop dragging him out. I feel that by doing that, you're just highlighting the struggles he's gone through. He obviously doesn't want the extra attention, so let him be. Thanks.
PS - I love you for playing Green as much as you've been. Thank you!

It really was an all-around good night for the Sox. The hitting clicked, the pitching clicked, the fielding was clean.... man, I would feel greedy asking for any more than that.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Mike Lowell: He Knows If You've Been Bad Or Good...

So, did anyone see the four screaming people right behind Mike Lowell's home run on Saturday's game? No? Well, that was me and my friends. A story...

So, our first four batters had failed to reach base, or to work the pitch count very effectively, so Mike Lowell is striding up to the plate, and I start making comments about how none of them are man enough to hit the ball out of the outfield, and how Mikey wasn't going to do anything. Mind you, I was kidding and I said it in good humor because it's pretty well documented how much I like Mikey. When it got to 0-2, I said something like "See, 0-2, he's not gonna do anything." And then a few seconds later, he hits a screaming line drive home run just feet from my head. We should have caught the ball. If we had caught it, it wouldn't have had to be reviewed, but if it wasn't reviewed, then we would have never been on TV, and the story wouldn't be as exciting.

If the ball had been left as a double, I would have been beside myself with anguish, but truth be told, I don't play sports because I have no talent for catching or throwing or anything of that sort. Luckily, they got the call right and they gave him the home run. We weren't even supposed to be sitting in those seats. We had standing room tickets, but sat in those seats an hour before game time and no one ever asked us to move. I just remember watching the ball coming in, thinking it was going to die down before the wall, and then my eyes going wide when I realized that it was still coming right at us. We screamed. It was scary. My friends yelled at me to never taunt Mike Lowell again. And I will not.

After that, we had a good story to tell, and pictures because my friend's father had taken a screen shot of us on TV and texted it to my friend. It was very cool, indeed. One of the Fenway Foto people came up to us at the end of the game and asked if we were the girls who almost got hit by Mikey's home run. We were famous.

Anyway, Jon Lester was beyond brilliant yesterday. I had been at his no-hitter, and it's safe to say that he was far more dominant last night than he was at his no no. Having a perfect game through 6 1/3... I really couldn't have asked for more. I think we gave him a three minute standing ovation after he gave up the hit. I was so proud of him, and he pitched one hell of a game. The strike outs were just piling up. His velocity and his location were brilliant. He just made it look easy against a pretty good Texas team. He deserved that win. His ERA is now 5.09, which is a hell of a lot better than it was a few weeks ago. I wanted the perfect game, or the no hitter, or the shutout, but I'll happily settle for a win and for the knowledge that he's now pitched two incredibly good games in a row. You will get no complaints out of me.

Yeah, Ortiz's home run might have been a cheap one, but a week ago, that would have been a foul ball. I think that was one of the best signs... cheap hits. It doesn't matter how they come, as long as they come.

All in all a great day at the ballpark. I'm happy I was there for it, and I will never... EVER mock Mike again.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Randy Johnson: The Last Pitcher To Be Told He'll Be The Last Pitcher To Reach 300?

Congratulations to Randy Johnson for recording his 300th career win in a 6-inning performance against the Washington Nationals. In the game, he didn't allow a baserunner until the 4th, and he didn't allow a hit till the 5th.

I've heard nothing except that he'll be the last pitcher to do it. While I don't entirely agree with this, I think it's more important to focus on the fact that it happened. Yesterday. Revel in it. Enjoy it. Love it and cherish it, because if Roy Halladay doesn't get to 300, he may very well be the last of a dead breed....

... and a further reminder that you should not baby pitchers! Let them pitch!!!

Thursday, June 4, 2009

That's Mr. Awesome To You

I would like to point out that on a night where Mike Lowell got ejected for probably only the third time in his career*, he also managed to rack up his 1,500th hit as a big leaguer.

We're hitting milestones left and right now, aren't we?

Tito and his 500th win
Drew and his 200th home run
Now Mikey and his 1500th hit.

MLB predicts that there will be a few more milestones this year for the Red Sox... we're expected to see David Ortiz's 1000th RBI (he's at 989 right now), Mr. Lowell's and Mark Kotsay's 1500th games (1460 right now for Mikey, and 1451 for C+), David Ortiz's 5000th AB (4818 now), Ortiz's 300th HR (he needs 9... doesn't it seem like should have been here way before this season?) Mikey's 400th double (he needs 31 more). All of these hitting milestones are expected to happen this season? Will they? I'm sure most of them will.

As for Penny, he's on the verge of his 100th win. He's got 99 right now. Timmy Wakefield is 55 strike outs short of 5000. Hopefully we'll see both of those milestones hit this season!

Now, about Mikey Lowell's ejection. I'm doing some research, because I can't imagine that he's been ejected very often in his career. He's so calm and level headed on the field. This is what I've found:

-6.03.09 - vs. DET
-7.25.08 - vs. NYY
-6.25.07 - vs. SEA
-8.18.02 - vs. SF

That's it. That's all I could find. Four times? You know what? That doesn't surprise me. I may have missed some along the way, but it's kind of a hard stat to find, apparently.

Anyway, congratulations again to our milestone hitters and manager. I hope to see plenty more milestones this year.

Curtis Granderson: I No Longer Like You

Curtis... oh, Curtis, I knew it would be you. I didn't want it to be you. I didn't want it to be anyone, to be quite honest. I kept hearing Eck and DO prattle on about how you are no problem for Beckett, how he's owned you and how you are helpless against him. That's how I knew it was going to be you. I didn't say anything to anyone because I'm not about to jinx a guy going for a no-hitter. I kept my fear to myself until said fear was realized.

You didn't have to do it. You could have just let him get the no-hitter. It's as close as he's ever come, and if you didn't get that base hit, the game wouldn't have fallen apart the way it did. So, I no longer like you, Curtis. I used to sort of like you. I thought you were a good player. Perhaps not the best, but good. Now.... no more. I never want to see your face again.

Beckett was unbelievable last night. Dominant. Everything I want in a starting pitcher. But the game devolved pretty quickly after that base hit. Looking at the score, you would never guess that Beckett took his no-no into the 7th, would you? Craziness ensued in the final innings. Not that it wasn't wacky before then. Let's recap, shall we?

-The night starts off with JD Drew getting hit 200th career home run off of Gallaraga.

-Youkilis steals a base (hopefully preventing a double play) and ends up getting doubled off second, even though he was clearly back to the bag in time, during JayBay's AB.

-Gerald Laird tried to drop down a bunt in... I want to say the 5th inning, but it may have been the 6th. The bunt attempt drove Eck crazy.

-Eck started talking openly about the no-no going on. ECK! You should know better! We do NOT mention the phrases "no hits," "no-no," or "no-hitter" in the middle of a no-hitter. You jinxed it, man. So not cool. Didn't anyone ever tell you to, um, NOT do that? D.O., you were sitting right next to him. For two innings, he kept saying the above banned phrases, and you did nothing to stop him? That's completely unacceptable. You can say "he's putting up a lot of zeros" or "no baserunners have reached except for (list recipients of walks), who reached on a walk" or even "he's dominating tonight." We'll know what you meant, and you don't have to annoy the superstitious part of the fan base by jinxing it. I'm not always superstitious, but you never NEVER say the phrase in the middle of a no-hitter. Never do it again, Eck.

Then in the 8th, it unravelled. Why was Beckett back out there, some people have wondered. Do you know why he was out there? Because he had been pitching well, and Tito felt no need to unnecessarily use the bullpen. I completely support that decision. Beckett is a grown up. He doesn't need to be babied. When he's on, let him pitch. I defend Tito's decision to keep him in there. The eighth was ugly. It started with a double, and a HBP. Beckett plunked Laird. Could it be because of the attempted bunt? I don't know, I guess it could have been. Don't tell me it was unintentional. Beckett had pinpoint control all night.

Unfortunately, the eight also saw us commit three errors. The first was from Munchkin, who tried to flip to Captain Planet covering second, and ended up throwing the ball into left field. The first unearned run scored. Daniel Bard comes in to relieve Beckett. His first batter reaches on a fielding error by Captain Planet. That's now two errors in the inning that Green has played a role in. Asshat gets kicked in the ankle and has to come out of the game. Mark Kotsay, who had replaced JD Drew, moves from right to 1st, and Baldelli jumps out to right. The next batter reaches on a fielding error by Mikey Lowell, loading the bases. The second unearned run scores. And then that smarmy little jerk Granderson hits a triple, letting the third unearned Beckett run scores, and a couple of unearned Bard runs score. Hideous. Just to recap, that was three fielding errors in the span of four batters (there was a K after the first error). 2B, SS, and 3B basically ruined the inning for us.

Then in the ninth, and I'll admit that I didn't see why this happened because I was getting myself ready for bed, apparently my beloved Mikey gets kicked out of the game. Mikey? Seriously? I wish I had seen that, because Mikey NEVER gets kicked out of games. I can't recall a single other occasion when Mike was kicked out. He just doesn't have the temperment for it. Then Saito was getting squeezed by the ump. I saw five to six pitches that were strikes that were called balls. I bet it was because of the ruckus.

Either way, they held on to win. What should have been a spectacular no-hitter turned into your routine 10-5 victory. I was beyond impressed with Beckett. He's now on the verge, and hopefully only a start away, from getting that hideous ERA down below 4. I think he's at 4.09 right now. There's nothing I love watching more in all of baseball than Josh Beckett when he's got solid command of all of his pitches. He throws some of the prettiest curves you can imagine when he's going good. And oh, the paint. He knows how to paint. The sexiest thing in baseball is an 0-2, 95-96 mph fastball that paints the outside corner and freezes a batter. I didn't get that last night. The closest we got was Brandon Inge's 2nd inning AB. Beckett throws a 94 mph 4-seamer right on the outside corner, and Inge just stares at it. Gorgeous. Just gorgeous. I couldn't ask for anything more.

Now Wakefield, you no longer have the lowest ERA on the starting staff. Let's try to remedy that this afternoon against Dontrell Willis. I won't get to watch you, since I will be in class, but I promise that I'll be rooting for you while muddling through macro economics. Good luck, Tim!

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Me: Lacking Time For Blogging Recently

This class that I'm in has been keeping me pretty busy, I must say. I want to write more, but there just isn't enough time or energy to do it. So today, I'm just going to give a quick recap of yesterday's game and I guess I'll leave it at that. Just too much going on right now...

So, Dice-K was himself. Average. Lots of corner-nibbling, refusal to pound the strike zone, and pitching himself out of trouble over and over again. He walked fewer than seven batters, so I guess I can't complain. In his only win thus far this season, he only went 5 innings. How very typical.

JayBay hit another home run, with runners on base, which is also very typical, but it's typical in the good way. He can keep that up all year. I promise I will not be offended.

Papelbon is scary, but at least he (usually) gets the job done.

I'm honestly starting to wonder what it is that our pitching coach does... Strangely, our bullpen seems pretty well adapted to... um, pitching, but our starters don't seem to have a feel for it. I don't know. I always like to blame the coaches.

The Commander goes tonight, and he's been more than sufficient lately. Let's hope that he keeps it up.